I came across this article on a site for Shamanic Dreaming. I have long moved toward that process and found comfort in a part of the site that seemed to suggest that when we reach those first levels of shamanic dreaming, we usually don't remember because it is so powerful that the conscious mind can't wrap itself around the energy. If you want to know more about shamanic dreaming, which I do not recommend unless you are spiritually guided to do it, please visit the site. The article I've chosen to share is not so much about what happens when you practice shamanic dreaming but more about just working toward the deeper levels of dreamwork that are possible for the spiritual being. It reminded me of a practice I used in the past, that of waking myself up so that I would remember my dreams. Though I wouldn't do it long term, it can be very helpful during times when recall is elusive. In fact, I'm going thru a period like that now so I may jumpstart my dream recall just that way.
I quite agree with the author of this site that succeeding in shamanic dreaming, or any other area of shamanic work, can make you doubt your sanity. It is not for the curious or the casual participant. I have an article on my site that may be of interest: What is a Shaman? Neva
p.s. another thing I read on this site that really resonated with my own knowing is that nightmares are the result of getting to the edge of that expanded consciousness and power that is available and being unable to move past the fear. I've always felt that nightmares were the most powerful of dreams and taught the most. It makes sense to me that one reason that would be true would be that a person brings back a little of that deeper power, even though they retreat from it.
Gates of Dreaming
courtesy of The Shaman's Cave
The usual steps involved in dreaming practices shamanically are pretty straight forward. First, to be able to remember your dreams, second to 'wake up' inside your dreams and third, to take control of your dreams in a real way. A notebook by the bed is a very good idea, it allows you to record your dreams when you wake up during the night, or upon first waking in the morning. Focusing your intent, or what you are intending to do, is also important, without that things can become too chaotic in dreaming and of no value to you when awake. Typing out the dreams is a good way to reinforce the memory of the dream.
There are other methods that can be used to remember your dreams or make them more vivid in detail for you in waking. One of the best is simply to set your alarm clock for an hour or so earlier than you have to wake up. You might get a second alarm clock and leave it set for when you actually have to get up and then when the first one goes off just turn it off without having to worry about resetting it. Being jogged toward consciousness like this tends to bring us closer in memory to our dreams. You will tend to remember more, especially in the period between the two alarms.
Some people use this method every two or three hours during sleeping, resetting the clock each time for another two hours. I think that can be a little extreme and cause some sleep deprivation so I don't recommend it as a general rule. If you happen to be one of those people that this type of schedule doesn't bother then by all means use it. There is some experimentation involved here to determine what type of schedule works best for you. What you are doing here in all of this at first is to simply draw back the curtain on your dreaming. All people dream in one way or another, you're just trying to get a clear picture of your dreams and draw closer to that side of yourself.
That pretty much covers the simple aspects of the first part of dreaming practices. The second aspect, of waking up in your dreams is a logical next step I think. In order to accomplish that you must have a much more narrowly defined intent going into dreaming and it can take a long time to manage it fully. Simply being aware you are dreaming, or becoming lucid, isn't enough. Ultimately you are trying to move beyond even the complex imagery of your dreaming mind and into the energy of dreaming itself. During this process your dreams will tend to become less chaotic and more 'complete' in a sense. You will become aware at some point that you are awake in the dream, realizing that you're dreaming etc., at that point you begin to acquire better focus and understanding of why you want to do any of this in the first place.
Dreaming energy is not bound by the normal rules of our waking world. I'm sure you've noticed that over time. Almost anything can happen in a dream. In the dreaming state, we are not bound by time, distance, or even physicality. Your dreaming people could be from anywhere, the past, the future, another time altogether. They could be ancestral memories, or other dreaming energies who happen to get caught in your dreaming. Without knowing the context when a specific one appears it is hard to say. But in general it indicates you are a daring dreamer, willing to reach past the mundane in dreaming, not afraid to see new things or people. This is a good thing.
Some people have success by remember to 'notice' some object in their dreams to trigger lucidity. If this works for you then by all means use it. Some people will use a keyword, like say, 'pickle' or any word will do. They fall asleep with the intent of saying that word and becoming aware in their dream. If the object works for you then use it, form the intent of seeing it in your dreams. When you do, focus on the object, then shift your focus to elements in your dream and begin practicing holding onto them, not letting them shift into other things.
Dream Resource - Online Class on Dreams and Astral Travel:
The lessons provided here take you on a journey through the land of dreams from the purpose of dreams to the understanding of lucid dreaming, which is a form of dreaming that allows you to participate to change events and outcomes of the dream itself. Dreams are natural problem solvers. They act as an inner guidance system, providing us with information and insights about our relationships, attitudes, unseen facts and problems. They can even act as warnings about the consequences of our behaviour or the behaviour of others in our lives. In this class you will learn ways to put your dreams to work for you. Once we have taken the journey into what dreams are, and how to put them to use for us in our daily lives, we will continue the study into the depths of the subconscious with a complete section of this course dedicated to the art of Astral Projection. There are tips, suggestions, and exercises CLICK TO ENROLL